Laser Rigging

A good rule of thumb: if your Laser looks different from everyone else's, it may be illegal. Buddy-up with one or two of your mates and check each other's boat over. If in doubt, ask another sailor and check the Rules. If you're still in doubt, ask a more experienced Laser sailor at your club, or one of the scrutineers if you're at a championship. Measurers and scrutineers are not out to catch you out, but to help you stay legal and enjoy fair racing.



You must have a knot in your mainsheet between the ratchet block and the tail end of the rope. A rule-change this year allows the knot in 3(c)(ii) to satisfy the requirements of Rule 3(c)(i).In other words you only need one knot, but it must work well enough to prevent the tail-end from running out through the mainsheet block.
The photo at the top is now just as legal as the bottom one.

You'll only find out why this rule exists if the end-knot comes undone and you watch helplessly as your mainsheet shoots out through the ratchet-block, then the boom-block and finally the becket block. And it will happen twenty seconds before the one-minute gun and you're three boat-lengths over the line on a black-flag start. If you've ever had to re-rig your mainsheet on the water you'll know what a pain this is.

In practical terms, if you have a Ronstan ratchet-block (which has a big gap under the ratchet) and a thin mainsheet, you may find a Figure-8 knot is not thick enough to prevent the mainsheet-end running out through the ratchet-block. Some of the other blocks have too large a gap underneath, too. At a Championship this may be tested by the Measurer. If you use one of the current range of thin mainsheets, test this out before you go racing, or even sailing.

Vang / Kicker

Vang Control-line Handle

You can tie the tail to one of the following: the centreboard or its handle, the loop you use to attach the bungee-clip to the centreboard, or to the tail of the Cunningham control-line. Sorry, but you cannot tie it to the centreboard elastic. You can loop the vang handle over the centreboard handle.

(When the 'new' controls came out I asked ILCA whether you could use the same piece of rope for both the cunningham and vang control line, but the answer was No. Just in case you were thinking along the same lines.)

Also see Cunningham / Downhaul, below.


This is an essential safety feature. Before sheaves and 'optional' blocks were allowed, the Cunningham system could not take more than a couple of purchases before friction made it unusable, and so the 'tail' of the rope was quite short. The Cunningham was the only thing that kept the mast in when you turtled. When sheaves came in, more purchases were possible, and the resultant longer tail would allow the mast to fall out if you fell in offwind. It's happened to me, and it is no joke trying to re-insert the mast at sea, even with the help of a fellow-competitor. Hence the mast-retainer.

There are many ways in which you can rig a retaining line. The neatest is the solution illustrated (Pic. 1), for it allows full mast-rotation yet allows the mast to rise only a couple of centimetres (2). Moreover, you can lead the centreboard elastic under the line to give the bungee an effective anchor-point at the mast rather than at the bow-eye (3). This is legal provided you do not make any alteration to the function of the retaining-line, such as by knotting an extra loop for the bungee to feed through.

Ensure the retainer line is tight enought to do its job, so that the mast cannot be pulled upwards more than a couple of centimetres. If you try to right your Laser after a capsize and your mast-foot is half-way up the tube, the base of the mast may go through the side of the mast tube. This tube is normally never under load and is therefore only thin-layered GRP. The resultant damage is usually expensive and difficult to repair, and almost certainly your fault.

Cunningham / Downhaul

Use of shackles or clips

The illustrations shown to the right used to be illegal, but are now perfectly legal.

The Traveller

Traveller Rope

The Traveller "shall be rigged as a simple closed loop". A recent interpretation issued by ILCA states that:

Rule 3(b)ii): The most forward part of the triangle that forms the traveller is regarded as load-bearing and may have a splice at that point.

However, you are not permitted to splice any other part of the line, for instance to strengthen the line at the traveller fairleads. The line has to be of the same unifirm material as well as thickness, so you cannot change its construction at points of high wear.


Traveller fairleads must be either all-plastic or all-metal. (Plastic fairleads with a steel insert are illegal.) The plastic ones are softer than the rope so they need checking for wear every now and then. The metal ones are harder then the rope, but they have a history of being abrasive. (Threading the rope though plastic tubing at the traveller fairleads is illegal.) Because they wear away the traveller rope from the inside-edge where it runs through the fairlead, the first you'll know about it is being whipped around the face by your snapped traveller-rope; that and being unable to sheet in. Your traveller will never fail less than three miles from the shore.

Clew Tie-down

You are allowed only one clew tie-down. Though it might seem sensible to have a fall-back in case it comes undone, Rule 3(g)(i) states "the clew of the sail shall be attached to the boom by either a tie-line or a webbing strap with or without a fastening device wrapped around the boom and through the sail cringle, a quick-release system attached to a tie line or soft strap wrapped around the boom, or a "Builder Supplied stainless steel boom slide with quick release system." The arrangement (right) spotted at Stokes Bay is more than one tie-down and is not permitted. If you're unsure whether your velcro strap will stay tight, you're either not tying it right or you really need a new one.


If the Sailing Instructions state that you have to have a tow-rope, it is a safety issue, not a Class Rule, and you must comply, even if you're in the Youth Squad and it's desperately uncool to have one. Your mainsheet does not count as a tow-rope. (Using your mainsheet as a tow-rope doesn't do it any good at all; it's almost guaranteed to twist up the next time out.)

If a Race Committee equipment inspector (who may also be the event Measurer) reports a sailor without a tow-rope to the Race Committee, it is likely to be a DSQ for the whole day. And if you've had three races that day you might as well pack up and go home. If you're worried about the weight-penalty use thin polyprop. rope, which doesn't absorb water.